Although we're inundated with sexual imagery everywhere in our society—from billboards and commercials to summer blockbuster films—the subject remains relatively taboo in the day-to-day life of most western countries. Although the legacy left by the sexual revolution is still felt in America. it’s still not exactly common to be upfront in casual conversation about personal sexual preferences, practises, and who’s involved. After all, these matters are usually quite personal so even if some of us have very few qualms about bringing up the subject at a party or with close friends, it's a safe bet that not all of those people are necessarily comfortable hearing about it.
Nobody knows this more than a politician. Whether a senator, congressperson, governor or otherwise it comes with the territory of the job that a politician's life is under a considerable amount of public scrutiny. As an elected servant of the people, those people tend to watch their every move in order to assess their appropriacy for the position. Are they married? Divorced? Do they have children? Do they have a history of drug use, or do they conduct themselves in a lewd manner? If married, are they faithful to their wife or husband? Despite views about the nuclear family, sex and monogamy becoming less and less traditional, the American public still seems a long way from adopting a 'laissez-faire' attitude to the sexual proclivities of their politicians.
Politicians are, almost by definition, upstanding citizens who are the poster-people of the country’s values, laws, and morals. So in the U.S. that means there's never any room for infidelity or untoward activity. After all, who could forget the nationwide furore when Bill Clinton's affair with Lewinsky became common knowledge? Based on sometimes indignant and often shocking reports from well-known news sources across America and abroad, we're taking a look at some examples of 'shocking' political sex scandals in the past decade. Were these incidents really worth the uproar they caused? Read on and decide for yourself.
6 Eric Massa - Inappropriate Tickling
Eric Massa, former representative of New York, resigned from his position after allegations of inappropriate conduct with members of his staff. According to Massa himself, there was nothing overtly sexual in his actions, but he does admit to using inappropriate language in addressing his staffers. It was reported that Massa admitted to Fox News' Glenn Beck that he had groped and tickled a member of staff 'until he couldn't breathe', although he later denied the groping.
When all of this went public, Massa's reported statement to Beck hinted that this was frat house fun taken out of context. However, he later went on to release a statement acknowledging that his language had been 'salty'. Although he denied allegations of sexual harassment, the charges were the driving force behind his resignation.
5 Jack Ryan - A Sexless Scandal
The Illinois Republican Jack Ryan was forced to drop out of the 2004 race for senator when court documents revealed he brought his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, to sex clubs. This was, the court documents reportedly reveal, in the hope of having sexual relations in a public setting.
In 20004 CNN reported that a court proceeding related to visitation issues with their son, it was reported by Jeri Ryan that Jack Ryan brought her to sex clubs in an attempt to perform sexual acts in front of the other patrons. In the spring of 1998, Jerri reported that Jack took her on “3 surprise trips” to New Orleans, New York and Europe. Although she refused to go to any clubs at first, she eventually gave in on Jack’s insistence. "It was a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling," Jeri said. She also said, in Paris, ”people were having sex everywhere. I cried…[He] became very upset with me and said it was not a 'turn on' for me to cry.’” Due to the publicity of these events, Jack had to drop out of the race, all for a sex scandal that didn't have any actual sex.
4 David Wu - Alleged Encounter with a Teenager
In 2011, Oregon Congressman David Wu resigned from his position after allegations from an 18-year old girl that Wu made inappropriate sexual passes. The woman called a Portland office claiming that Wu had made unwanted sexual contact, though Wu said the encounter was consensual. Because there were no witnesses to corroborate the girl’s account, she did not press any charges. House Representative Nancy Pelosi called for an investigation into the claims of the young woman. Eventually, Wu decided not to stand for re-election. Wu’s only response to the matter was that he considered the allegations very serious and did not want to “bring unwanted publicity, attention or stress to a young woman and her family.” Other than claims of sexual molestation, a number of staffers resigned after Wu's erratic behaviour - including an incident when he sent them strange photos of himself posing in a tiger costume - actions that he said were due to mental challenges he was facing when separating with his wife.
3 Larry Craig - A Guilty Plea for “Lewd Conduct”
Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho was not only accused, but arrested in 2007 for “lewd conduct” involving an undercover police officer in a Minnesota bathroom stall. Craig plead guilty to the misdemeanour charge of disorderly conduct. According to the officer, Craig came into the bathroom and sat in the stall next to him. He then began to tap his right foot, touch his foot, and message his hand through the stall’s partition. The officer arrested Craig for soliciting the police officer for sexual activity. According to Craig, there was no wrongful conduct because his behaviour was misinterpreted by the officer. He also said the he should have never made a guilty plea just to make the process faster. Craig eventually resigned and did not run for reelection; he's been cited as one of several politicians who supported anti-gay rights legislation and was involved in a gay sex scandal.
2 Mark Foley - Sex Messages to the Underage
Mark Foley resigned in 2006 after reports surfaced accusing him of sending explicit messages over the internet to an underage male. The messages were allegedly sent via the AOL messaging system to male House Pagers, at least one of which was under the age of 18. In the messages, he made references to acts of sex and private parts. Representative Rodney Alexander heard of these message exchanges, but did not pursue the matter further because the recipient’s parents said “they didn't want [him] to do anything.” Foley’s resignation was incredibly sudden, and was done so with a three-sentence letter that stated: "I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent"
1 Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Secret Lovechild
“I’ll be back.” Everybody knows this infamous quote from movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film Terminator. In a way people probably didn't expect, he did indeed come back, this time as the Governor of California when he was elected in 2003, beating his opponent Greg Davis. In 2011, it was found out that Maria Shriver, Schwarzenegger’s wife, had hired a divorce lawyer in plans to end their 25-year marriage. The reason: Schwarzenegger’s affair with his maid and housekeeper, Mrs Baena, and the birth of his love child conceived during their affair.
Baena confessed to having Schwarzenegger’s child when his wife confronted her about secretly raising him. Eventually, having learned three years after the child’s birth that he was the father, Schwarzenegger himself admitted it when Baena threatened to go public with the news after she was let-go after 20 years of service. This was particularly scandalous given the Republican party's vocal stance in support of traditional family values.